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All About Parkinsons Disease Dopamine Levels

May 26, 2008
Most people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's believe that their bodies do not produce enough dopamine. The implication of this belief of course is that their bodies are not working correctly.

I believe dopamine deficiency is not the real problem. Surprised? There clearly is a hormonal imbalance. But who is the real culprit here - dopamine or adrenaline?

In my opinion, the true cause of the hormonal imbalance in Parkinson's lies with an overabundance of stress hormones: adrenaline, cortisol, aldosterone and testosterone. These are the hormones that are naturally secreted by the body when it is in a survival mode. What really happens to the body when it is flushed with stress hormones?

The immune system is jeopardized. The gastrointestinal track shuts down. Memory becomes problematic. Thinking becomes fuzzy. All senses are dulled - touch, feel and smell.

Overall energy is depleted. Blood pressure and respiration increase. Water and nutrients are sent to the lungs and heart.

The rest of the body is ignored. After all, the body is in a survival mode. Why bother nourishing the neurons? The connection between the effects of stress on the body and the symptoms of Parkinson's is stark.

When the body is preoccupied with making the stress hormones, cells throughout the system become seriously dehydrated. When cells become dehydrated, how can they get rid of the toxins and waste products?

The answer is obvious. They don't.

Recovery for persons with the symptoms of Parkinson's involves helping the body remember the place of balance and helping the individual move out of a suspended state of stress. Most people are so stressed they do not even know they are stressed!

When the body is on continuous alert year after year there is less and less demand on the body to produce dopamine. The natural ability of the body to manufacture dopamine simply withers away. The body is doing precisely what it was designed to do.

It is not broken. It is working perfectly. There is no inherent demand to produce dopamine, so less and less dopamine is manufactured. The body is too preoccupied with producing the hormones that are needed when it is under stress.

Why again does the body stop producing dopamine? When we stop using any skill, proficiency declines little by little, day by day. Consider a physical example. If you stop working out and exercising, it does not take long for the muscles in the body to turn to flab.

"Use it or lose it" is the name of the game. When you do not use it you lose it!

If you do not use the body's learned ability to manufacture dopamine, it will gradually lose the ability to produce dopamine in the quantities that are needed. The cells needed to produce the hormone die and are not replaced. The body says to itself:

"Why bother? There is no need for dopamine."

Although increasingly a young person's disease, the symptoms of Parkinson's do not emerge in many people until the later years. This is because there needs to be a depletion of 80% in the body's capacity to make dopamine before the symptoms of dopamine depletion actually surface.

It takes a long time for the body to give up its ability to produce any hormone it thinks it may need in the future. But it will give up, eventually. It obviously will take time to convince the body otherwise.

Many people have problems figuring out the best timing and dose of their Parkinsons medications which replace dopamine in one form or another. I am not a medical doctor, so I am not qualified or trained to be able to help you with this problem. Clearly, the best thing you can do is to consult with your doctor when problems emerge.

I do want to comment on the energy behind trying to figure out the right timing and dose of medications. The energy behind the challenge of figuring out the best timing is intentional (which is good), forceful (which can be good) and controlling (which is bad).

So you ask, what is so wrong with the energy behind control? After all, control is what makes things happen in the world, right?

Most people we work with who have Parkinsons have been very successful in their careers and work lives because they know how to use the energy of control effectively and efficiently. So again you are probably wondering why is control in this case bad?

Controlling behavior can be bad for people with the symptoms of Parkinsons because controlling behavior pumps out adrenaline which sustains hormonal imbalances in the body. If you are trying to control the timing of your medications every day, consulting with your doctor as needed, making decisions literally every hour there is an energy of control that is continuously present. The hormonal imbalance in the body is continuously present.

What do you do about the energy behind control? Make it conscious, so that you come to a place where evaluating your dose and timing become effortless(as opposed to forced)as you listen to the needs of your own body.

In summary, there is a curious tension between the energy of control(which involves doing something every day to your body)versus being able to relax and let go. When you try to force relaxation, it just doesn't work. The body just becomes more alert and even more adrenaline is pumped out.
About the Author
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D. maintains a clearinghouse of information and offers programs for people with Parkinsons who are interested in finding relief from their symptoms using natural methods at Parkinsons Recovery
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